Tzu Chi Volunteers Help Paraguay Supermarket Fire Victims

Volunteers of the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation provided prompt assistance to victims of the Aug. 1 supermarket fire in Asuncion, capital of Paraguay. The fire claimed more than 450 lives.

When the fire first broke out at the Ycua Bolanos supermarket, the Tzu Chi volunteers were returning from distributing aid packages to underprivileged families at an indigenous village. Within four hours, Tzu Chi had established a coordinated effort to deliver mineral water, facemasks, and gloves to rescue workers still fighting the fire.

Tzu Chi volunteers also went to hospitals where the victims were sent, providing assistance to the injured and their family members. Volunteers also brought mineral water, hot meals, and blankets.

From the second day, Tzu Chi volunteers supplied emergency cash to the families of the deceased and injured, and presented them with a letter from Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi.

Families of those who died in the fire were each given US$130 for funeral arrangements, while injured parties were each allocated US$200 to assist with medical expenses. By Aug. 7, the volunteers had provided US$36,450 for 178 injured people and US$18,150 for the families of 133 deceased victims. Tzu Chi will continue monitoring the situation, and will provide further assistance to families of the fire victims, if necessary.

In her letter, the Master expressed that she was "extremely saddened" by the tragedy and feels greatly for the suffering of the victims. Though the amount of financial assistance is small in comparison to their loss, the Master wanted to express the utmost concern and sincerest well wishes from Tzu Chi members around the world.

Fourteen Tzu Chi volunteers were involved in this relief effort. Among the volunteers, many came from neighboring cities, and two came from Argentina to support the effort.


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